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Red Mountain Trail

Red Mountain Trail

"I love the fantasy-land aspect of Red Mountain and the suddenly jangly weirdness of it. The short, easy trail travels through scenic wood-lands before plunging into the mystical gullet of a volcano. Red Mountain is one of the several hundred cinder cones that poke through every pore in the volcanic landscape surrounding Flagstaff. But unlike most symmetrical cones, Red Mountain is a haphazard U-shape, with an amphitheater carved from the Northeast flank. “Carved” may mislead; it looks like some giant cosmic being took a chomp, leaving behind a raggedy assortment of hoodoos and a labyrinth of slender canyons.

The trail starts on a wide path rising gently though a forest of junipers and pinon pines. Dipping into a sandy wash it continues toward the base of Red Mountain, with towers 1,000 feet overhead. So far everything seems normal, but a mile from the trail-head, things take a turn for the freaky. Walls of black cinder rise up, flanking the stream-bed with a few lonely ponderosa pines growing from the desolation. The trail squeezes between dark towers of volcanic tuff (ash that’s been cemented by the ages). A six-foot ladder climbs over a stone wall, and suddenly you’re engulfed in an arena of gnawed spires, twisted pillars, and hard-edged badlands. The reds of Red Mountain are not the saucy, seductive hues of Sedona or Monument Valley. They’re more earthy tones, leaning in an orangish direction."

Source: Roger Naylor "Boots & Burgers: An Arizona Handbook For Hungry Hikers"